In a move aimed towards simplifying payment options for 400 million Chinese users (and fighting competition from other taxi aggregators), Uber has expanded its partnership with Alibaba-owned Chinese payment app Alipay.
This will allow Chinese users to call Uber and pay for it in yuan using Alipay app in all 68 countries where the company has operations. Previously, they had to link a dual-currency credit card to the Uber app and pay for their rides in US dollars.
The users will see a special Uber icon in Alipay app whenever they would travel outside China. This will go away once they get back to China where they will have to separately use Uber app for cab rides.
Speaking about the collaboration, Eric Jing, President of Ant Financial (financial arm of Alibaba) said,
Alipay’s collaboration with Uber reflects a step forward of Ant Financial’s global strategy, and the collaboration also extends to the Alipay’s strategic global partners like Paytm in India. The collaboration aims to bring better experiences for our users globally.
Since February 2015, Alipay has also been sharing its technology with Paytm to promote financial solutions to those in India who have limited access. Uber has also announced a deepening of their collaborative global expansion efforts in India, through a similar strategy and product integration between Alipay, Uber, and Paytm.
Commenting on the same, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO and Founder of Paytm said,
Leveraging the strategic partnership with Ant Financial, we look forward to working closely with more global partners like Uber to grow our influence in order to benefit our 126 million users.
Uber had first partnered with Alipay in 2014 to allow payment of Uber rides through its app in China. Since most Chinese users prefer Alipay over credit cards, the partnership led to an explosive growth of Uber in China.
Uber witnessed an increase of its market share from 1% market share in China in early 2015 to roughly 33% at the end of the year, giving tough competition to the homegrown company Didi Kuaidi.
Chinese travelers know and love how easy it is to request and pay for Uber rides at home; now we’re excited to bring this experience to them wherever they are in the world, right from the Alipay app,
said Eric Alexander, Uber’s head of business in the Asia Pacific announcing the partnership.
With this partnership, Uber has definitely put itself ahead of its competitors, or one should say the alliance of its competitors consisting of Didi Kuaidi, US-based Lyft, SouthEast Asia’s GrabTaxi, and India’s Ola.
This anti-Uber alliance allows any user with one of these apps in his/her phone to order a cab from other services while travelling abroad. However, as far as payments option is concerned, users still need to choose different payment options and different apps to pay for these rides.
And this is where Uber expects its new partnership to beat the competition by bringing simpler, quicker ways for users to use one app and a single payment option to travel around the world.
However, an interesting angle to this story is that Alipay’s parent company Alibaba Group Holding also owns a stake in Uber’s rival Didi Kuaidi which in turn is an investor in Ola and Lyft. On this, Eric Jing has asserted that Alipay is partner-agnostic and would keep the interest of its 450 million user base in mind before forging any partnerships.